Stork Mountain – Miroslav Penkov


Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 10th March 2016 by Sceptre Books

Format: Hardcover copy sent to me for review by Sceptre Publishing via Bookbridgr

In his mesmerising first novel, the internationally celebrated short-story writer Miroslav Penkov spins the intriguing tale of an American student who returns to Bulgaria, the country he left as a child. His mission is to track down his grandfather and to find out why he suddenly cut off all contact with the family three years before.

The trail leads him to a remote village on the border with Turkey, a stone’s throw away from Greece, high up in the Strandja Mountains – a place of pagan mysteries and black storks nesting in giant oaks; a place where every spring, possessed by Christian saints, men and women dance barefoot across live coals in search of rebirth. Here in the mountains, he is drawn by his grandfather into a maze of half-truths. And here, he falls in love with an unobtainable Muslim girl. Old ghosts come back to life and forgotten conflicts blaze anew, until the past finally yields up its plangent secrets.


This book was enchanting; the characters, the plot, the writing, everything. Miroslav Penkov knows how to make a story magical. Being a sucker for folklore and mythology, I couldn’t resist requesting this, and was so grateful to receive it.

I absolutely loved the storyline, it was so full of magic and mystery. The characters all had such unique plots and they were woven together perfectly. The stories of the Nestinari and Captin Kosta just added another layer of intrigue to it, as they linked to the main narration, yet it was subtly done. The plot is so intricate and detailed, and I admit that I did have to put it down for a while because of this (it was the lead-up to exams so I was focused on revision). I’m so glad that I did so, as I then read it when I had more time and energy to dedicate to following the story and enjoyed it so much more. I did still find myself getting a little bit lost from time to time due to the multiple layers, but it was so interesting, I just couldn’t put it down.

Leading on from that, every character was unique and had their own secrets. There were none of the standard, generic characters that are found sometimes in books. I could picture them all, with their quirks, their own style, and their manner of speech. The character-building and the exploration of familial relationships throughout the novel were excellent and definitely stood out to me. Complexities were unveiled with every chapter and it made it such a fascinating read.

I wouldn’t describe this novel as fast-paced, though a lot does happen. It takes you through everything slowly, so you can take it all in. It’s definitely one of those books that suits a slower pace and I certainly was engrossed in the story. One thing I would say though is to only pick this up when you are certain you can dedicate yourself to it, so you can enjoy it fully; it’s worth taking the time.

The writing was absolutely beautiful, which added to the ethereal atmosphere of the novel. I think that’s one reason I loved it so much; everything about it fitted together perfectly and beautifully. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who seeks something a little different, with multiple layers to dive into. Honestly, I loved this book (books set in different countries always seem to be my favourites), and urge everyone to read it, as it explores culture, history, and family in a wonderfully unique way.

Rating: 5 / 5 stars.


Recommendations: Contemporaries


I love contemporary books, it’s one of my favourite genres. Summer is the perfect time to read them, though they’re the type of book that I pick up all year round, and I thought that I’d share some of my favourites (these are not in an order). Any that I have reviewed should be linked.

I nearly missed this off my list… How? HOW?! It’s amazing and perfect and ugh.

  • Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about them already, but they really are fabulous.

  • One – Sarah Crossan

This made me cry, it’s so wonderful.

This was such a gorgeous story.

One of my favourites of last year.

  • Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

I’m so looking forward to finishing this trilogy.

  • Since You’ve Been Gone, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour – Morgan Matson

Since You’ve Been Gone is my favourite of the two, but Morgan Matson is fast becoming one of my favourite writers, I can’t wait to read her other two.

This was such a wonderful read.

  • Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

I think everyone has heard of or read this, but it deserves the hype.

  • Faceless – Alyssa Sheinmel

There is very little romance in this, and it was so refreshing.

I loved the characters in this novel and also the narration is unique and interesting.

Have you read any contemporaries that you’ve enjoyed? Let me know!

All the Rage – Courtney Summers


Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publication Date: (First published) 14th April 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Format: ebook from Pan Macmillan via Netgalley

Romy Grey wears her lipstick like armour, ever since the night she was raped by Kellan Turner, the sheriff’s son. Romy refuses to be a victim, but speaking up has cost her everything. No one wants to believe Kellan is not the golden boy they thought he was, and Romy has given up trying to make herself heard. But when another girl goes missing after a party, Romy must decide whether the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.


I hadn’t really heard much about this book when I  requested it, but the summary grabbed my attention straight away as it focuses on rape, and I have read very few novels on the issue. I have to say, I finished this in a day, I enjoyed it so much. It’s unique, includes twists that I didn’t see coming and really highlights the isolation that many victims express feeling.

It starts off focusing on how the protagonist, Romy, is viewed due to her claims of rape, and the way that she copes with what she is going through. At times it could be tough to read as she so clearly is seeking help and understanding, however I thought that the way it was portrayed was excellent. There are so many instances of misunderstanding and victims not being believed nowadays, and of rapists getting off lightly, that it’s important that this is highlighted, which is something that this book does fantastically. It really showed how victims need help and support, as Romy has none of this, and finds her experience even more difficult and isolating as a result.

I liked Romy, she could be somewhat irritating at times but overall I liked her. That, and her weak side was shown to the reader, despite it being hidden to all of the other characters in the novel. It made her a real and believable character, and much more interesting to read about. I felt that I could empathise with her easily because of the way her character was so well written, which made it a more thought-provoking read.

It was surprisingly fast paced and the storyline also went on to take turns that I honestly wasn’t expecting and I was hooked throughout. They made the story even more interesting and intriguing. I guess I was expecting something different, though I’m not sure what – definitely something slower – not that it being different to my expectations made it any less enjoyable. At first, I have to admit, I did wonder how the events linked to the main focus of the story (Romy) yet they moved the plot on and everything made sense in the end, which I really liked.

The ending was what let me down however, I felt as though there could have been more to it, and that the very final scene was not necessary and didn’t have such an impact as the part just before it. Maybe that’s just me though, as I really did love the rest of the book.

Would I recommend this? Definitely. I think it is an essential read as it highlights the impact that rape can have on an individual’s life, and I would argue that it does this extremely well in some areas. By all means, it is not the best account that I can imagine you could get, but if it helps one person to change their view then that’s beneficial.

Rating: 4 / 5.

Top 3 July Reads 2016

I had such a good reading month in July, and though I wanted to finish 10 books (I was 99 pages off…) I’m so pleased that I managed 9, and it’s the best I’ve done for a long time. The only problem with having a good reading month is that it’s very difficult to pick a top three, but I managed with the help of goodreads (I rated three books five stars, which was convenient).


BronzeStork Mountain – Miroslav Penkov

This book was so good! It has such an intricate and detailed plot, but I found it fascinating and unique. It is set in Bulgaria and I’d never read a book set there before, and I really enjoyed it! I shall be writing a full review for this very shortly and it will (hopefully) be up soon.

SilverBreakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut is hands down one of my new favourite authors. I fell in love with his writing and satire reading Slaughterhouse 5 a few months ago, and plan to slowly progress through everything he has written. If you haven’t picked something up by him, I’d highly recommend it.

GoldA Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

A lot of the time I find that hyped books disappoint me… This wasn’t one of them. It was absolutely wonderful and I fell in love with the writing and the characters almost straight away, yet it broke my heart repeatedly throughout. It’s 720 pages, but didn’t feel this long at all. If you’re hesitant about picking it up, don’t be. It’s beautiful and you should read it.